‘What She Said Will Save Lives’: Rosie Duffield MP Shares Domestic Abuse Story

By Meka Beresford, Freelance News Editor 3 Oct 2019

Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, has been celebrated for sharing one of “the most moving contributions in parliament” as she recounted her own story of domestic abuse during a House of Commons debate. 

Yesterday, the new Domestic Abuse Bill – which will criminalise the economic control and manipulation of a person, as well as non-physical abuse, as domestic violence – passed its second reading in the House of Commons without a division.

It will now be looked at in detail by a committee of MPs, and a motion has been passed meaning that, if needed, it can continue the process of becoming law in the next parliamentary session.

The new bill will also put an end to cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts, and install further protections for victims in the form of domestic abuse protection notices and orders.

Not All Abuse Looks The Same

Image Credit: Parliament TV

Duffield, who worked as a teaching assistant and political writer before being elected in 2017, told the House of Commons how at first, her relationship was bursting with romantic gestures.

“They don’t threaten criticise, yell or exert their physical strength in increasingly frightening ways. Not at the start. Not when they think you’re sweet, funny and gorgeous. Not when they turn up to your third date with chocolates, then jewellery. Not when they meet your friends, or the leader of your political party,” she explained.

“It starts slowly: a few emotional knocks, alternated with romantic gushes and promises of everlasting love, which leave you reeling, confused, spinning around in an ever-changing but always hyper-alert state, not knowing what mood or message awaits you.”

“It starts slowly: a few emotional knocks, alternated with romantic gushes and promises of everlasting love.

Rosie Duffield MP

Over time, Duffield’s former partner move in with her and the abuse deepened. It started with verbal intimidation, making snide remarks on her clothes or appearance, or going for long periods of time without talking to her at all. He then refused to disclose his salary, would not contribute to bills, and he eventually quit working.

“In the months that follow, those patterns continue: reward, punishment, promises of happily ever after alternated with abject rage, menace, silent treatment and coercive control; financial abuse and control,” she said – adding that, eventually, “you get to the stage where you are afraid to go home.”

Soon, Duffield became a “shadow” of her former self and every day was emotionally exhausting for her. She loved her job, but was becoming unable to put on a mask to hide the goings-on at home.

“The mask has slipped for good, and questions are starting,” she said. “Excuses are given to worried friends, concerned family, and colleagues who have started to notice.”

Ending The Cycle Of Abuse

Image Credit: Parliament TV

After one night of crying through a torrent of abuse unleashed after she suggested her partner put some money towards a new sofa, Duffield decided to take the house keys from his bag so he would be unable to return to her home.

“Heart banging, you hide them carefully and creep back into bed, praying he won’t discover what you have done. You know for certain what will happen if he does. You know an apology will not follow,” she recounted.

You realise you are allowed to be happy.

Rosie Duffield MP

“Sure enough, the next few days and weeks are a total hell—texts and calls and yelling: ‘You’ve locked me out like a dog’, ‘No one treats me that way’, ‘This is the last thing you will ever do’.”

Duffield explained that it took months for her to return to normal, and to ignore and unsubscribe from the wedding emails, but that one day she found herself smiling again.

“You realise you are allowed to be happy. You dare to relax and you dare to start to feel free. You realise it is not your fault… The brightest and most precious thing of all is realising that you are loved and believed by friends, family and colleagues who believe in you and support you,” she finished.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia